once upon a time season 4 finale

Obligatory disclaimers ahead – there will be many spoilers because there is much to discuss about the detailed plot points involved in the Season 4 finale of Once Upon a Time. (Have I mentioned lately how much I adore this show and the way the writers tell these stories?) I’ll give you a minute to escape from this post.

Still here? Good.

First of all, all the OMGs. What the writers did here with the flipped script (heroes acting like villains) is nothing short of brilliant. Some transformations worked better than others, such as Regina playing as the fairytale land version of Snow. I enjoyed watching that version of Regina, and the costume really worked for her. On the other hand, the evil Snow and Charming were truly terrifying. Snow White, in her original bandit role, was a character to be respected for her outlaw skills, but when paired with no moral compass, that made her truly feared as the Evil Queen character.

It was an interesting strategy to make the Author a villain.  This wasn’t something I expected, simply because the heroes and villains in the original book were so accurately depicted as the characters we saw play out in the past few seasons.  Snow / Charming – good.  Regina / Rumplestiltskin -bad.  But the character development was never quite that simple.  We saw Snow temporarily embrace the dark side.  We saw Regina and Rumple display some positive qualities that made them appear worthy of redemption, even though the goodness never quite sticks to the Dark One.  Let me add to that thought – THIS IS AS IT SHOULD BE.  Rumple should never be completely redeemed.  If that happens, Once will be ruined for me.

Even the annoying Author didn’t ruin this finale.  There was too much to like about how this part of the story ended.  The center of this whole saga has always been Henry. It started with his belief in the book, and his success in bringing Emma back to Storybrooke in the first place.  Even though he has grown up, his belief is what drives the magic and heroism of those around him.  He had his chance to be a hero in this episode and he was up to the challenge – convincing Regina and Hook to help with his plan was no small task, and besting the Author who had written the revised ending was awesome to watch.  It is only right that he’s the one who should be the new Author and rewrite that villain’s story.

There are a few objections I have to the current direction of this storyline.

As I’ve said on numerous occasions, the Dark One / Rumple needs to be dark. He needs to be alive, but the end result shouldn’t be that his Dark One evil shouldn’t be transferred to anyone else, especially Emma. This might negatively affect her relationship with Hook, and this result should be avoided at all costs. Keep him alive for the sake of Belle, because she deserves to be happy, even if it’s with HIM. But Neal (and now, Emma) shouldn’t have been sacrificed to keep this corrupt evil man alive.  Why must we keep corrupting heroes to save this man?  Isn’t there another way to keep him alive?

Even though the idea of Emma as the Dark One intrigues me, and her willingness to save Regina from turning back to darkness is admirable, doesn’t this defeat the whole purpose of Snow and Charming’s initial plan to keep her from the Dark Side?  Yes and no.  Everything Emma has done to get her to this point was done to save someone else.  Killing Cruella saved Henry.  Absorbing the Dark One’s evil saved Regina.  It’s all about motives – the reasons were perfectly understandable, even though the death of Cruella was unnecessary.

Season 5 is going to be epic, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.